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Cliburn Semis End With Lively Performances


by Olin Chism 31 May 2009

The semifinals of the Van Cliburn Competition finished with a flourish Sunday night, with three notable artists giving vivid performances and then turning the competition over to the judges for the finals selection. Two of the last three semifinalists played the same work, Brahms’ Piano Quintet, with the Takács Quartet. Kyu Yeon Kim and Yeol […]

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The semifinals of the Van Cliburn Competition finished with a flourish Sunday night, with three notable artists giving vivid performances and then turning the competition over to the judges for the finals selection.

Two of the last three semifinalists played the same work, Brahms’ Piano Quintet, with the Takács Quartet. Kyu Yeon Kim and Yeol Eum Son gave performances that were both bold and subtle. Son has been on my list of favorites since her preliminary recital, and Sunday’s powerful account of the Brahms confirmed my feelings. I guess I would give her the nod in comparing the two, though Kim is very strong and undoubtedly has her partisans. Both are from South Korea.

Alessandro Deljavan of Italy gave the last solo recital. His Schubert Sonata in D, D. 850, was full of personality, often flowing lyrically but full of high spirits. His White Lies for Lomax was vivid, but not as captivating as some of the other performances of this commissioned work. Scriabin’s Sonata No. 5 was given another lively performance that might easily have appealed to someone who really didn’t like the work.

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